Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. One of a variety of writs that may be issued to bring a party before a court or judge, having as its function the release of the party from unlawful restraint.
  • n. The right of a citizen to obtain such a writ.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A writ to bring a person before a court or a judge, most frequently used to ensure that a person's imprisonment, detention, or commitment is legal.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A writ having for its object to bring a party before a court or judge; especially, one to inquire into the cause of a person's imprisonment or detention by another, with the view to protect the right to personal liberty; also, one to bring a prisoner into court to testify in a pending trial.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In law, a writ issued by a judge or court, requiring the body of a person to be brought before the judge or into the court; specifically, such a writ (entitled in full habeas corpus subjiciendum) requiring the body of a person restrained of liberty to be brought before the judge or into court, that the lawfulness of the restraint may be investigated and determined.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a writ ordering a prisoner to be brought before a judge
  • n. the civil right to obtain a writ of habeas corpus as protection against illegal imprisonment

Etymologies

Middle English, from Medieval Latin habeās corpus, produce the body (from the opening words of the writ) : Latin habeās, second person sing. present subjunctive of habēre, to have + Latin corpus, body.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin habeas corpus ad subjiciendum ("You (shall) have the body to be subjected to (examination)"), referring to the body of the person being detained (not the body of a victim, as in corpus delicti). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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